More of You, less of me… Literally
It’s inevitable to not be asked questions when you go through a very noticeable journey such as extreme weight loss. I hear about it all the time, usually well intentioned and encouraging comments about the change. Most everyone asks the same questions; “how much have you lost?” “What made you start this?” “Don’t you feel so much better?”
There’s nothing wrong with these questions, and I’m happy to answer them, but anyone who has walked through this missionary experience with me knows I’m going to be honest about what things are really like and weight loss is very much a part of my missionary journey.
Last year when I moved to Colombia I knew weight loss was probably going to happen but I didn’t realize how much God was planning to weave it into His plan. I sometimes forget that God cares about ALL of my life. Not just bits and pieces. So with that I’d like to answer the questions that I get asked and give the raw answers people don’t usually expect, not to toot my own horn, but to bring a little bit of honesty and a different perspective to a personal journey.
How much have you lost?
100 pounds. If you want a clearer picture of what that looks like, it's 6 pants sizes, 2 shirt sizes, a ring size, a chin, and the equivalent to 2 1/4 of our smallest orphans.
What made you start this?
God. He was like, “Hey Dana, I’ve got a new plan for you! Go to a place where you’re going to sweat all day, eat rice and beans, and then I’m going to set you up with a friend who likes fitness.” Okay, He didn’t say that, because if He had I would have been like, “um. nope.” Nevertheless, that’s what happened. I got to Colombia about 3 weeks after Samantha and about 2 weeks before they finished the construction of the farm gym. Once it got finished Samantha was faithful to invite me to join her workouts. I’m pretty sure I said no for about a week out of embarrassment and pride because I knew there was no way I could keep up with Samantha, but eventually I needed the fellowship. God let me crave friendship and fellowship so I would say yes. As far as starting, it wasn’t easy. And my pride took a hit when I couldn’t do a real pushup. My first month I was doing pushups on the wall. Vertically. Yikes. Looking back I’m glad that’s all I could do because it shows how far I’ve come. And to be thankful for where you’re at, you have to be realistic about where you’re able to start. For me, this whole journey has been a picture of God in my life. Moving to Colombia has showed me how far I’ve come in faith. There is still so much farther to go, but not only did God show me physically where I was at, he showed me spiritually as well. Physically Samantha asked me to come along a journey of health with her, and provided the encouragement and challenges along the way to improve where I was. Eventually I moved to lower wall push ups, push ups on the ground on my knees, and then eventually a real pushup. It’s a process. In the same way, Jesus has done that with me spiritually. It started with a little step of faith; boarding a plane to Colombia, then he started teaching me things about serving (cooking, cleaning, hanging with kiddos, etc…), and brought trials and hardships along the way to strengthen me spiritually. With Jesus, the journey might involve the physical, but it’s always a journey to sanctification.
Don’t you feel so much better?
Overall? Nope. I bet you weren’t expecting that. There are ways I feel better: it’s easier to go up the stairs to the main part of the farm (I wouldn’t wish these stairs on anyone, I’m pretty sure it’s the equivalent of 80 flights of stairs… okay, that’s a slight exaggeration), it’s easier to lift things, and it’s easier to breathe. But if we’re being honest, isn’t it so much easier to see how much farther you have to go verses how far you’ve already come? I feel like it’s always that way in life. I climbed Saddle Mountain for the first time ever when I was home in February and right at the top when we got to the super steep switch backs is when I was most tempted to turn around. I could see the summit, yet the challenge getting there looked to be too much. I didn’t want to. I did, but there was something in my mind that said, “you can’t do that”. Extreme weight loss, or any personal battle really, comes with a constant voice saying, “you can’t do that”. No matter what you’ve proven you can do, you still focus on what you can’t. I’ve embraced this part of the journey like an old friend, because it’s in that place where I hear a triumphant voice in my heart say, “You’re right. You can’t. But I can.” So yeah, I guess I feel better, but the enemy doesn’t stop discouraging. In the same way it’s a battle physically, it’s a battle spiritually. The enemy doesn’t like when you accomplish something and attribute it to Christ so out of his old playbook, he brings discouragement. I’m thankful the very thing He uses to discourage is the same thing God uses to encourage. It’s true; I can’t. And that sucks. But thankfully my hope isn’t in what I can do. God got me this far, so I’ll just admit I can’t and keep walking (and going to the gym) with Him and asking Him to help me. And when you get to a place where you’re doing pushups on the ground without your knees, or doing a plank for a full 60 seconds without dropping, that’s where you feel better. It’s not every day, it’s not every week, sometimes it’s not even in a month… But God is faithful to give little glimpses of how far you’ve come when you need it so you can keep going. But ultimately, the journey is finding contentment in Him not the next triumph on the scale.
The journey to sanctification, no matter how God is choosing to do it, is going to take some effort and pain. There will be trials, but the trials are building up into your testimony. The changes God makes in us are to point to Him. So I could awkwardly answer the questions with a simple answer, but in telling the truth of how difficult it is and how I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished much, God gets more glory.
So yes, my journey has been physical… But it’d be meaningless without the spiritual.
And for your viewing pleasure here’s a before and after photo of me. The one of the left was taken the day I left for Colombia in August 2015 and the recent one was taken tonight after my insanely difficult workout. #thankssamantha
John 3:30//More of you and less of me, Lord.